done it again!
Unbelievable! I've been waiting seven
years for Susan Tucker to write this book and it was well worth the
HAVE to buy this book! NO! Don’t just buy it! Absorb
it! Live it! Read it over and over and over, because every
time you read it you're going to discover some new secret that will
move your writing
jump into the "Way Back Machine"
first book review I
wrote for The Songwriter's Connection was Susan's best seller, "The
Soul of the Writer: Intimate Interviews with Successful
Intimate is exactly what it was.
When I met Susan at the Northern California Songwriter's Conference
(now West Coast Songwriter's) a
few years ago I shared with her how unique her book was.
first chapter or so I kept flipping
to the back of the book where the songwriters Susan had interviewed had
their photos and bios. I studied them and
then I'd go back to read some more, trying to picture in my mind from
the bios who was answering each question.
Finally I stopped reading the book, spent the next day or so going over
and over the bios until I felt I knew each of the songwriters
intimately and then began reading the book again. What
The format of the
made it feel like I was sitting in my own living room asking the
questions myself and having each of the songwriters share their secrets
What a rush! A private audience with some of the best in the
business! I told Susan I couldn't wait for Part 2 to
be written, even submitting a dozen names to her of whom I'd love to
see in the sequel. I wasn't disappointed ... five of
those songwriters are here in "The Secrets of Songwriting" and the
other eight are very worthy additions. (Perhaps Susan will
include the others in Part 3?
Restrained? It' SO Hard!!!
OK, let's reverse
that Way Back Machine and come
back to the present. My wife, Kathi,
has a joke, "Never ask Jace what time it is because he's likely to tell
you how to make a watch". As excited and passionate as I am about "The
of Songwriting" it would be SO easy for me to go into
great detail about all the secrets you’ll discover, but that wouldn’t
be fair, now would it? Besides, everyone will
come away from reading this book with their own discoveries, and that’s
the way it should be.
But on with the
review, otherwise the publisher won’t
send me my check. (Hey, do I get royalties for this, too?
As I've already
indicated "The Secrets of Songwriting" is the perfect sequel to "The
Soul of the Writer", but it’s not necessary to have read "Soul" first
in order to fully enjoy "Secrets". It clearly stands on its
Susan's done a wonderful job of getting each of her very willing
interviewees to open up and share what they do to
keep the Muse alive and well.
They share stories
about how they decided to make
songwriting a career, and what it takes to keep the creativity going,
how important discipline is, how they handle writer's block, rejection,
their "editor's voice", and the roller coaster ride of a career in
songwriting. What about the advantages or disadvantages
of co-writing? How intimidating is that blank sheet of
paper? Where do they get
their continuous flow of ideas? And plenty more.
You may or may not
know the songwriter's names, but
I'm sure you know their hits such as Brooks & Dunn's "My Heart Is
Lost To You", John Berry's "Change My Mind", The Backstreet Boys' "Back
To Your Heart", Toby Keith's "We Were In Love", "Dream Walking" and
"How Do You Like Me Now?", John Michael Montgomery's "I Love The Way
You Love Me", Reba McEntire's "Little Rock" and "Till You Love Me",
Chely Wright's "Single White Female", Martina McBride's "Independence
and Faith Hill's "The Secret of Life", Trisha Yearwood's "The Song
When", Ronnie Milsap's "Stranger In My House" and Bonnie Raitt's "I
Make You Love Me", Collin Raye's "In This Life", Lee Ann Womack's "I
You Dance", Phil Vasser's "Another Day In Paradise", Tim McGraw's
"Grown Men Don’t Cry". The list
goes on seemingly forever, such is the talent we’re talking about here.
So what make's these
songwriter's so successful? Well, there are more differences than
denominators. We all have a style that
works for us, it's just a matter of finding a groove and going with
it. And as we discover that what works for a
particular songwriter is similar to or even exactly what works for us,
it gives us encouragement to keep on writing, and encouragement is a
BIG part of
all need somebody to believe in us"
Chuck Cannon credits
his early success to producer Marshall Morgan. "He got interested
me. He was my champion. We all need somebody to believe in
us. You need someone that isn’t just telling you
what you want to hear, but believes in your talent, and is urging you
to develop your talent. Everyone needs
someone like that."
How many times in
books, conferences and elsewhere
have we heard the advise, "In order to have a hit you have to find a
new way to say what's already been said before. You have to find
a new way to
say, "I love you." Well, Bob DiPiero likes to look at it this way:
said before, but I've never said it. This is my
take on what everybody's already said.
"There's only one me
and, as a writer, that's a powerful
statement. That gives you the unique
opportunity to say something that's never been said before because
you're saying it in your way.
been said before, and there are the
four basic colors. Why paint a picture
because they've used all the same colors?
It's your version of those mixtures of colors that matters."
Treasure Trove Of Ideas
It's been said that
if you want to be successful in
a particular thing just model someone else who's already doing it
successfully. They can show you the way
as well as help you to avoid some of the pitfalls. "The Secrets
of Songwriting" has such a wealth of guidance you can't help but find a
treasure trove of ideas to model.
As I said at the
beginning of this review, don't just buy
this book. Absorb it! Live it!
Read it over and over and over, because every time you read it you're
going to discover some new secret that will move your writing along
I hope it doesn't
take Susan another seven years
until Part 3 comes along. Who knows? Someone reading either
"The Secrets of Songwriting" or its
prequel, "The Soul of the Writer" just might find their own
Perhaps enough success to be included in Part 3.
Maybe me? Tell you what … let's do it together!
Copyright © 2003 by Jace
lives in the Nashville, TN area and is a member of NSAI. A
Freelance Writer /
Photographer, Poet, Author, and former Radio DJ, he now enjoys a career
as a Songwriter, and a
collaborator much in demand predominantly in the Country genre, but
also enjoys occasionally writing for A/C, Pop, R&B, Smooth Jazz,
As a Freelance Writer he has contributed reviews on new CD's to online
newsletters and regularly contributed book and concert reviews along
with personal commentary on the music industry to Nashville's Songwriter's
Jace is also the creator of the Change Your Stars! website
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